Calling all GIF enthusiasts: Inuvialuit-themed GIFs are now available on Facebook. Search for “Inuit” or “Inuvialuit” in Facebook’s GIF keyboard and away you go.
Options include an Inukshuk, mukluks, an ulu, and a muskox. They were created by Tusaayaksat Magazine and the Inuvialuit Communications Society with funding from Indigenous-led charity Canadian Roots Exchange.
“It is our hope that Inuvialuit are able to use this tool to communicate with each other, learn more of the language, and feel a little bit more heard and seen in the online communities they belong to,” said the Inuvialuit Communications Society.
Just under 30 GIFs are available. They show objects, animals, plants, and food related to Inuvialuit culture, accompanied by the Inuvialuktun word for the item.
The full set of GIFs.
Items were chosen through consultation with communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.
Inuvialuk visual artist Kyle Natkusiak Aleekuk was asked by Tusaayaksat to help design the images.
Without any experience creating GIFs, Natkusiak Aleekuk said, the process was a learning curve.
“I did a little bit of research and got the idea that it’s just a very simplified version of whatever object or thing you’re trying to draw,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of trying to make it legible from a distance, because it’s such a small thing to be reading with your eye that you don’t want it to be all messy and muddy.”
While his family has roots in the community of Ulukhaktok, Natkusiak Aleekuk grew up and resides in Edmonton. He didn’t always have access to his culture, he said.
Working on the GIFs helped Natkusiak Aleekuk reconnect with his own Inuvialuit heritage and language.
Kyle Natkusiak Aleekuk, the graphic artist behind the new GIFs. Photo: @Natkusiak
“Learning each specific object, or animal, or plant – and learning the Inuvialuktun translation – has been helping me learn the language in a whole different way, because I grew up not knowing how to speak Inuvialuktun,” he said.
“This was a learning experience that I feel is going to fulfil not only myself for language learning purposes, but I hope others, as well.”